Facts for visitors: Essential things to know before arriving in Tunisia

 

ETIQUETTE: The Western-style handshake is standard practice in business environments. However, it may happen that a woman does not offer a handshake, in which case the man should not extend his hand. Similarly, while close friends and relatives often greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks, some women may not accept kisses from men. The level of conservatism varies significantly across the country with regards to attitude and mannerisms, with notable differences between Tunis and more rural areas.

DRESS: While the dress code differs across the country, it could be classified as slightly more conservative than Europe and generally more liberal than most other Arab countries. Western-style clothing is common in Tunis and many other urban areas, but traditional clothing is still widespread in rural areas. However, since 2011 more and more women can be found wearing headscarves, including in the big cities.

LOCAL CURRENCY: The local currency is the Tunisian dinar. One dinar consists of 1000 millimes. As of September 2019 the exchange rate was $1:TD0.35. ATMs are readily available throughout the country, and major international credit cards are accepted in large retail chains and restaurants. The dinar is non-convertible, and its export is forbidden by law.

HEALTH: There are no preventive health measures that need to be taken prior to a visit to Tunisia, such as vaccinations. In the country you will find many public hospitals that can perform basic services, if needed. Visitors looking for top-quality care can visit private clinics, which are well known for their competitive price compared to Western clinics. There are also a large number of pharmacies in the cities.

VISAS: Western European, Canadian, Japanese and US visitors are permitted to stay in Tunisia for up to three months without a visa. It is recommended to check visa requirements before departure. Generally, nationalities requiring a visa can obtain them through a Tunisian embassy or purchase them at the airport upon arrival.

LANGUAGE: Modern Standard Arabic is the official language and is used in the government and the education system. However, everyday discussions take place in the Tunisian dialect, which borrows from French, Spanish and Italian. French is also spoken by the vast majority of Tunisians, making the country unofficially bilingual. English is also making inroads in the business community, but it is still far from commonly spoken. Having said this, an increasing number of Tunisians below the age of 25 are more comfortable speaking in English than in French.

BUSINESS HOURS: A typical work week runs from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.00pm. However, during Ramadan and the summer months of July and August, working hours are from 8.00am to 2.30pm. This special working regime is commonly called séance unique. For the weeks of Ramadan, most shops and restaurants will be closed during the day but open after sundown until the early hours of the morning.

TELEPHONE: Tunisia’s international country calling code is +216, with regional city codes of 71 for Tunis, 73 for Sousse, 74 for Sfax and 75 for Djerba. The three mobile phone providers are Tunisie Telecom, Ooredoo and Orange Tunisie. 4G networks work well in major cities, and 3G networks are widespread throughout the country. An ID or passport is required to purchase a SIM card, which can then be topped up electronically or with scratch cards at reasonable rates. Mobile phones are preferred by most people living in Tunisia, as the installation process for a fixed line can be quite lengthy. Public pay phones are also readily available and can be recognised by their blue signs.

INTERNET & ELECTRICITY: All major hotels in Tunisia are equipped with internet access, and most of the business hotels provide high-speed, fibre-optic connection. In addition, many restaurants and cafes have Wi-Fi. Setting up a Wi-Fi connection, however, can be a lengthy process. For electronic devices, sockets accept the standard continental European, two-pin plugs.

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